“Hey, I’m curious… I’m starting a new story and I was wondering how far you can take things? Like do you have any opinion on how dark you make subjects? Would you write about murder, rape, torture, etc, and would you limit how much detail or what goes on? At what point does it go too far?”
-(Asked to remain anonymous)
Well reader, it really depends…
(I actually sat staring at the screen for 10 minutes trying to figure out what to write.)
I’m sorry reader… I’m afraid I can’t help you. I’m neither saintly nor scholarly enough to make the determination on what’s going too far, nor would I want the job if I were. Honestly, I’m not sure there is an answer. There really isn’t a rule for that.
Given today’s society and what modern literature is, it seems that the level of sadistic themes and neurotic narcissism throughout keeps getting pushed. As I said in a previous thread, being edgy sells. So if you want to write about someone being tortured and feel the need to drag your reader through every single cut, every drip of blood, every… well all power to you.
That said, there should be a few guidelines. Firstly, refer to topic on Writing Characters You Hate and make sure you’re being edgy for the right reasons. Second look at your target audience. If you’re going with the young adult readers, it’s probably advisable to stay away from anything too edgy.
After that, it really depends on you. In Magnifica wrote about racism and a character being tormented and nearly raped because of that character’s race, but my main character stepped in before it happened. I was willing to bring up and examine the topic, but I saw no need to take it any further. For you, perhaps violence will be a pathway to realism depending on what you’re writing about.
So that’s it. That’s really all I can say, your only limits are how far you’re willing to go and what your readers can stomach. The only piece of advice I can offer is that you ask yourself why. Why am I making this gory, violent, or sadistic? Is it necessary and will it make the story more captivating? If the answer is yes, then have at it. If not, then perhaps a little more thought to the makeup of the story is in order.
Anyway, I hope that was helpful and good luck on your endeavor. I hope to see it in print soon!
What does everyone else think? Should he limit himself, and if so, by what standard?
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
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Catch you on the flip side!